MU offers resources for those in crisis

Help through the Counseling Center is available 24/7.

**“Crying, frustrated and upset, the following thoughts ran through my mind: ‘Why won't they just let me be their friend?’ ‘Why can't I just be normal?’ I hated who I was, and who I was was never going to be good enough to be accepted.”

Have you experienced these feelings? MU offers help for those struggling with mental illnesses.**


When junior Kevin Carr was in middle school, his homeroom teacher asked him how he was doing.

“Today would be better if I were dead,” Carr responded. He was not removed from class, or sent to the nurse’s office. Instead, the teacher sighed and moved on to the next student.

“I don't blame that teacher personally, but her reaction in hindsight raises questions and concerns for what efforts were in place to identify students who were mentally struggling,” Carr said.

Though the number of mental health resources on university campuses like MU is abundant, the number of students aware of these resources is key to preventing instances of self-harm and suicide if help is sought soon enough.

Nationally, the second leading cause of death for college students is suicide, said Christy Hutton, coordinator for MU Couseling Center Programming and Communications

Additionally, 86 percent of students who die by suicide had never been to their college counseling center.

“Only about a quarter of students on campuses know that these counseling centers exist,” Hutton said.

For MU students, mental health resources have been made available by and through the university at a variety of locations. The MU Counseling Center serves as the primary student behavioral health outlet, with consultations and treatment for illnesses ranging from depression and anxiety to eating disorders.

“The counseling center offers group and individual counseling, but we also offer consultations,” Hutton said. “Through these consultations, if a student or parent is worried about the well being of a student, we are able to talk through that with them over the phone or in person.”

The Counseling Center, in addition to scheduled group and individual therapy and consults, offers 24-hour crisis resources seven days a week.

If a student is “in crisis,” which Hutton said is a situation in which the student is unable to cope on their own, counseling is available in person or over the phone during business hours, as well as over the phone after closing time through a counseling hotline

Hutton said licensed mental health professionals always staff the Counseling Center’s after-hours line.

“Writing stories like this allows students to access us, which makes them more likely to recover,” Hutton said. “For somebody having a hard time, no matter the time of day or day of the week, call our phone number.”

MU’s resources extend beyond treatment and counseling and into awareness, prevention and destigmatization. Hutton said the Counseling Center hosts live suicide prevention training seminars in which students and faculty participate in role-playing activities and become better versed in working through more difficult conversations.

The Counseling Center also offers a more complete program titled “RESPOND: Partnering for Campus Mental Health.”

“RESPOND allows us to teach students and staff about mental illness and is offered once a semester, or more when we have student groups who will sponsor it,” Hutton said. “We also offer this about five times a year for faculty.”

Also offering mental health and wellness services is the MU Student Health Center, which has a behavioral health division for students to utilize. For students wishing to de-stress, Student Health also holds weekly “Mindful Yoga for Stress Management” in the lower level of the St. Thomas More Newman Center on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

“Mindful yoga is about practicing with awareness of physical sensations, breathing, emotions and thoughts from moment to moment with unconditional acceptance,” according to a statement on the Student Health Center webpage. “If yoga is practiced regularly you will notice many benefits to your physical and mental health. Many people experience greater serenity about life in general after consistent yoga practice.”

Student groups are also at work to raise awareness about mental illness. Active Minds Mizzou, as well as the Mizzou Suicide Prevention Coalition, are two examples of groups focused on decreasing stigma and have numerous ways to get involved.

A web-based training session is available at www.moasklistenrefer.org for individuals looking to train themselves in proper handling and care in discussions or interventions with people exhibiting signs of depression and a possibility of suicide or self-harm.

The training session, Ask Listen Refer, is an online program that explains to users the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and offers a 15 to 20-minute tutorial on talking to at-risk individuals as well as how to seek and acquire help.

Another a web-based suicide prevention service, Missouri Suicide Prevention Resources, is “an online network committed to suicide prevention on Missouri’s public higher education campuses,” as stated on the Department of Student Life suicide prevention resources webpage.

Help from outside sources is important, but often times, the most therapeutic breakthroughs come from recognizing your own ability to cope and to succeed, Carr said.

“To everyone who has mentally struggled, I implore you: Recognize the undeniable truth that you have inherent self-worth, for your own actions can make this world a better place,” he said.

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